Windows Server 2012 – Top 5 things you should know…

Microsoft have redesigned or “reimagined” Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Both code bases have now been completed and the products are ready for RTM (Release to Manufacture). Microsoft have put a LOT of effort and emphasis on cloud and virtualization based on many years of experience running and managing worldwide data centres for services such as MSN, Bing, XBOX Live and Hotmail (now used by millions of users around the world.

The Windows Server 2012 platform is designed to help customers reduce costs as well as ease management and administration. The most important and exciting thing about Windows Server 2012 is that it offers a very much enhanced and credible platform for virtualisation for the enterprise when used in conjunction with System Center 2012.

Microsoft stats also show that still half of the Windows Servers in use in most organisations are still Windows 2003 based. Now is a great time to start thinking about the capabilities of Windows Server 2012 and private cloud technology to ensure your business stays agile and IT is managed cost effectively.

Here we take a look at the top 5 things which I think are important about Windows Server 2012.

1. Significant Virtualisation Advancements
There are many improvements in Hyper-V which make it a real contender for anyone looking to move to a virtual infrastructure or planning to migrate from existing older or non-Microsoft virtual platforms which may cost significantly more. Features such as Hyper-V Replication make it possible to replicate a virtual machine to another datacentre without the need for SAN replication or other replication technologies. Hyper-V Replication can work across domains and datacentres securely and efficiently to provide a low cost business continuity solution. Features such as Live Migration are also enhances in terms of network optimization, storage migration and the scheduling and running of many migrations.

2. What does the marketing spiel really mean to me as a customer?
You will see four main pillars on the marketing material for Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 but what do they actually mean to you as a customer?

3. Licensing
Microsoft have streamlined the product line up and now offer four flavours of Windows Server 2012 which are: Foundation and Essentials for small businesses and Standard and Datacenter to cater for medium and enterprise customers.

The only differences between Standard and Datacenter are virtualization rights. So yes Federation, clustering etc. has moved into Standard Edition and there is no longer an Enterprise Edition. Memory and CPU capabilities are also the same in Standard and Datacenter Editions.

List prices in sterling with todays’ exchange rates are:- 
Datacenter Edition £3,082.73
Standard Edition £565.391

CALS are also still required for every user or device and each software license will cover up to two physical processor. So, for example a server with 4 physical CPU’s would require 2 Datacenter licenses or two Standard Licenses. The main advantage of using Datacenter comes into play when the server is being used as a Hyper-V virtual server host. With Datacenter Edition all virtual machines running on this host (unlimited amount) are covered for the Windows OS license within the VM. So basically any virtual host that will ever host more than 6 machines would be better having a Datacenter License. Of course any other applications running in these VMs would need to be licensed separately.
For customers who wish to take advantage of the System Center 2012 suite with Windows 2012 Microsoft offers discounts of 5% on single licenses or 20% on 25 licenses or more.

For more details please see the following for edition and licensing information:-

4. No more “Metro”

Microsoft have dropped the “Metro” name for Windows 8. The tiles from Windows 8 are also in Windows 2012. This may become more useful as more tools are developed to work in this style in the future. The name Metro is now known as “Modern UI-style” as Metro was meant for the development phase only!

5. Scalability and power to virtualize critical workloads (including domain controllers)

Windows 2012 Domain controller virtual machines can now be supported and safely virtualized by Hyper-V in Windows 2012. With increased Memory and CPU power available to a virtual machine, together with features such as network offloading, NUMA awareness, guest clustering, improved host clustering and storage optimizations even critical applications such as SQL Server and Exchange can gain from the benefits of virtualization. In terms of scalability a Windows 2012 Hyper-V server can host 320 logical processors, 4TB of memory of which it can allocate 64 logical CPU cores and 1TB of memory per VM. The maximum nodes in a Hyper-V host cluster is 64, and the maximum number of VM’s supported in a cluster is 4,000, the maximum active VMs on a host is 1024. In addition System Center Virtual Machine Manager (part of System Center 2012) can be used to manage a virtual infrastructure including VMware and cloud based virtual machines in your environment is also now cluster aware.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and I hope you are as excited about this major release of Windows Server 2012 as I am.

Is your organisation considering implementing Windows to upgrade your existing environment or are you considering the benefits of Windows Hyper-V and Private Cloud?

Mitesh Chauhan, IT Infrastructure Practice Manager at IMGROUP with 13 years of working in diverse IT environments from operations and network engineering to infrastructure architecture and management.
© 2012 Information Management Group Limited

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As one of Microsoft’s Gold Partners we are the recognised thought leaders and innovators in information management. We have one of the most experienced and highly skilled teams in the industry and have completed hundreds of successful information management projects in the private and public sectors. Our blogs will concentrate in all aspects of Business Intelligence, SharePoint, Relationship Management, Online Services, Infrastructure and Application Management.

4 Responses to Windows Server 2012 – Top 5 things you should know…

  1. Pingback: A look at deploying the Private Cloud « imgrouponline

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